So often it seems that the gratitude of the season quickly becomes over shadowed by the commercialism and greed of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Maybe there is a better way to shop with your conscience this holiday season?
We’ve all heard about people shopping at 1am the day after Thanksgiving to get the latest, greatest, best new gadget, shoving and grabbing to keep up with the Joneses…giving their kids more and more “things” each holiday season while the true holiday spirit of loving kindness gets swept under the pile of sales flyers.
According to Green America, this year, it’s estimated that Americans will spend a total of $586.1 billion dollars in November and December — and an average of $646 per person on gifts alone. If every American household shifted just 20% of their holiday spending to green purchases, it would steer nearly $117.2 billion toward green jobs and the green economy. How can you make a difference and shop with your conscience this holiday season?
In our over consumptive world we would do well to reflect upon architect Mies van der Rohe’s concept for minimalist design and architecture: “Less is more.” This year, consider giving experiences rather than “things”. Or if you feel the need to give things, make them yourself, or shop with your heart and conscience. Look for green, organic, locally made, or fair-trade, sustainable items. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
How to Shop with Your Conscience:
- Give Experiences — try movie tickets; museum memberships; class fees (pottery, photography, SUP lessons, etc.); trips or stay-cations; vouchers for babysitting or house-cleaning. Unstuff.com offers some unique ideas.
- Give DYI Gifts — If you’re crafty and creative give something handmade. Or shop from local artists and artisan foodies at farmers markets. Giving a gift of food is always nice because people can just eat it, they don’t have to find somewhere to put the gift or dust it for years to come.
- Give Goats, Chickens, or Microfinance Loans — Check out OxFam and give the gift of a goat, chicken, or safe drinking water for people who are truly in need. And Kiva.com, which offers small micro-finance loans for $25 each to help people in developing countries start a small business, or expand their crops, livestock, or shop inventory. I have personally sponsored many individuals through Kiva.com with a 100% repayment rate. Once a loan is paid off you can choose to re-invest it to help another or cash out. In this way it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
- Give Patagonia — The outdoor gear and clothing company whose mission is: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. They give back 1% of all sales to non-profit organizations. And by the way they are closed for Black Friday to let their employees enjoy the holiday. How cool is that?
- Give Neil’s Yard Remedies Organic* — UK-based organic personal care, health, and beauty products whose mission is: Saving the planet one blue bottle at a time. Ethical, sustainable, and philanthropic, NYR Organic started the Bee Lovely Campaign and contributes tens-of-thousands annually to help save the Honey Bees. They also contribute to Women for Women International, and the Humane Society among other earth-friendly organizations.
I hope these alternative gift-giving ideas help you to give with a conscience this holiday. In this season of gratitude I give thanks to all of you, my Happy Well readers. We all have SO much to be thankful for if we just pause to think about it.
I’m thankful for: my abundance of family and friends near and far; thankful for the health of my physically able body; thankful for the sun, the moon and the stars to light our way; thankful for the trees, plants and oceans that provide oxygen to breathe; thankful for the flowers, sunrises and sunsets that provide so much beauty. No matter what’s going on in your life at this moment in time, take pause and find some thing to be grateful for, however large or small.
Please leave a comment to let us know how you shifted your normal shopping pattern this year to shop with a conscience. Namaste.